By Ryan Martin
Following two unplaced efforts against stakes company over the main track, Marquee Prince ($6.20, $4.00 and $3.00) made a successful return to turf when taking the Lloyd ‘Captain’ Maestri Memorial Overnight Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots.
Guided by jockey Florent Geroux, the 3-year-old son of Cairo Prince broke from the rail and settled to the inside while tracking in fourth only three lengths off the pace. Vivid Verse set the early pace and led the opening quarter in 24.64. As Marquee Prince began inching his way closer to the front, Spectacular Gem took command and led the half in 49.61. At the top of the stretch, Marquee Prince was only an length off the pacesetter and under strong urging from Geroux, was able to get past Spectacular Gem in the final half-furlong to win by 1 ¼ lengths. He completed the one mile journey in 1:39.48. Spectacular Gem ($6.40 and $4.40) was second while Bluegrass Parkway ($3.00) was a troubled third.
Completing the order of finish were Vivid Verse, Corruze and Conative.
Owned by Rick, Donna and Jeff Awtrey, Marquee Prince scored his first victory since a 12¼-length romp against winners over Churchill Downs’ Matt Winn Turf Course. Last out he was fifth beaten 4¼ lengths in the Remington Springboard Mile in December.
“He was sneaky good last time at Remington and he already won an a other than so he had experience,” Geroux said. “Today he was back on turf and had a great trip down on the inside saving ground. When I cut him loose at the eighth pole it took him a stride or two to get going but he was best at the end.”
Marquee Prince gave two-time Fair Grounds leading trainer Brad Cox his fourth stakes triumph of the meet.
“His pedigree didn’t say one thing one way or another,” Cox’s assistant trainer Ricky Giannini said. “He’s still learning a lot. He has a good work here last Saturday and Flo rode him perfectly. The race set up for him.”
Marquee Prince earned $36,828 from his stakes victory in the Lloyd ‘Captain’ Maestri Memorial Overnight Stakes which enhanced his career earnings to $105,541. His lifetime record now sits at 6-3-0-0.
Bred in Kentucky by Brereton Jones, Marquee Prince is out of the Include broodmare Try to Remember who produced Grade I-placed Holiday Soiree. He was purchased for $215,000 by bloodstock agent Clay Scherer at the Fasig-Tipton October Yearling Sale in Lexington, Ky. where he was consigned by Airdrie Stud.